The Northern Virginia Daily's Political Depot

A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Location: Strasburg, Virginia

Monday, November 07, 2005

Mailers get fines for both parties; A1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

Both the Republican and Democratic campaigns for governor have been caught trying the same pre-election direct mail shenanigans and have been fined by the State Board of Elections.

The campaigns of the Republican, former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, and Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine were both caught and fined $100, the state’s maximum penalty, for failing to conspicuously claim two pieces of direct mail sent to voters in the past week.

Kaine’s campaign was fined for its mailer that looked for all the world like it was from the Virginia Club for Growth, a conservative pro-business group that has taken Kilgore to task for not pledging to sign a “taxpayer bill of rights” that would limit the state’s ability to increase spending.

The mailer, “An Important Message for Virginia Republicans,” used the traditional three-star, stylized Republican elephant, and quoted the Club’s press release, coupled with a photo of Kilgore.

“By trying to play both sides of the issue, Kilgore has been telling fiscal conservatives that he’s against taxes, while winking at the tax-and-spend interests in our Commonwealth, implying that he’s also on their side,” the mailer quotes Club for Growth President Phil Rodokanakis as saying.

“This mailing was authorized and paid for by Kaine for Governor” can be found in tiny type beside a picture of Kilgore.

The Club for Growth immediately cried foul.

“This sleazy and misleading mailing is a prime example of what we can expect under a Kaine administration.” Rodokanakis said in follow-up release. “It goes to show that Tim Kaine cannot be trusted to run an honest campaign and he certainly cannot be trusted on the issue of taxes.”

The Republican Governors Association filed a complaint, and the State Board of Elections met in special session Friday and levied the $100 fine.

But the latest instance of toeing up to — and slightly over — the line comes from the Kilgore campaign, which was fined $100 by the State Board of Elections Monday for failing to prominently disclose that it was behind a direct mail piece singing the praises of Russ Potts, a Republican state senator from Winchester running an independent campaign for governor.

The “2005 Official Democrat and Progressive Voter Guide” features a bucking donkey logo and sings the praises of Potts’ more liberal positions.

“Russ Potts is the only candidate who will stand up for progressive principles,” the mailer says, citing seven policy differences between Potts and Kaine.

“Tim Kaine has turned his back on the issues you believe in,” it says, giving the Kaine campaign’s Richmond phone number, and encouraging voters to call and tell “him just how disappointed you are.”

“Paid for and authorized by Virginians for Jerry Kilgore” can be found in tiny type beside a picture of Kaine.

The fact that the Kilgore mailer was likely printed and ready to go before the Republicans filed their complaint didn’t sit well with the Board of Elections.

“It is my opinion after 25 years of campaign work, this mailer probably left the mail house on Wednesday, and had to have been ‘as everyone in the business knows,’ designed and in the can and at the printers the week before, because any mailer that uses blue ink takes longer to dry. It must be dry before it is folded,” said Secretary Jean Jensen before the vote.

“My anger is based on the fact that by amazing coincidence, during the time [a Republican representative] was addressing the board regarding dishonesty and deception, the mailer before us was being delivered to the mail boxes of Virginia voters,” she said.

Today is Election Day. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.